OLD Media Moves

Chicago Trib's top magazines dominated by biz

June 15, 2006

The Chicago Tribune annually publishes its list of the top 50 magazines. Once again, the list is dominated by business glossies, including two of the top three slots.

Here are some of the magazines listed:

1. The Economist. In a class by itself as the best English-language newsweekly, with each issue unavoidably reminding readers of the weaknesses of Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report. Published in Great Britain, The Economist’s strength is international coverage, where it does not feel moved to cover a faraway land only at a time of unmitigated disaster. Even its coverage of the U.S. can be superior to the competition; witness a very solid special section recently on Chicago. And it doesn’t let its reporting be undermined by its generally conservative editorial policies, as underscored by a recent look at the declining fortunes of Iraq war partners President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair with the cover headline “The Axis of Feeble.”

Wired magazine3. Wired. Meaty reporting and flawless case studies of techie arrogance and cluelessness keep us coming back to this revered bible, though the product guides and even the music and book reviews remain unfailingly useful. The cheeky attitude toward everything sacred in geek culture is also a plus, but our wish going forward is that we get fewer movie tie-in issues and more provocative cover stories.

7. Consumer Reports. Few industries have been quite so polluted by commercial interests as magazines, with too many advertorials and too much advertiser-friendly content raising serious questions about editorial objectivity. So let us all please remember this old war horse, eschewing advertising and giving us the straight scoops on our consumer culture, be it running shoes or life insurance policies. In our celebrity- and opinion-dominated age, where being interesting is often more important than being right, it’s a bit bland, yes, but totally trustworthy; sort of like C-Span in print.

26. PC Magazine. It walks that fine line between being informative and being impenetrable. The editors know what you want to know, and that’s all they give you — in language you can understand. They try to guide the moderately tech-savvy through the baffling hardware and software choices they face, while keeping intermediate and advanced users engaged.

Not in the Top 50 were any of the biggest business magazines such as BusinessWeek, Forbes or Fortune, or others such as Inc. and Fast Company.

See the complete list here.

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